Archive for the ‘Video Production’ Category



Practical Tips for DYI Corporate Videos

One of the great things about producing corporate video these days is you don’t need a pro to do it. Wait… did I really just write that? I am a video producer after all. Maybe I should re-think this.

No… it’s true. You do not need a video pro to produce your videos. In most cases, you should want a pro, but you technically do not need one.

If you’re interested in finding out when it’s okay to produce DIY corporate videos and when it’s not, your should check out our guide: How-to Produce Better DIY Videos

Now, should you choose to shoot your own videos, here are some tips for producing more professional-looking DIY corporate videos.

A side note, I first started outlining these thoughts for one of the PR industry’s best blogs, Spin Sucks.

Tip: camera position

When setting up to shoot an interview or yourself for a talk-to-camera video, make sure your camera lens isn’t too low. Many people who shoot video of themselves flip open their laptop, adjust the tilt to frame themselves, and then hit record.

The #1 thing you can do to improve the way you look in your videos is to stop doing this!

Shooting from a low angle tends to be very unflattering unless it’s a highly stylized perspective.

You want the camera lens to be even with your eyes or slightly higher. Think about how you take a selfie! Prop-up the laptop or camera on some books. Lower your chair a bit. You will look so much better.

Still not sure if you have the right angle? If you can see the crease where the wall meets the ceiling in your shot, your camera is too low!

Tip: lights, camera, action

Make sure you have good lighting. Most people just use the existing light in the room. They don’t think of the source location of the light in respect to their camera.

Position your light source to be right behind the camera lens and slightly above it. Think about all of those mobile news cameras you see on TV. Their lights are right on top of the camera pointing down at the people they’re recording.

If you can’t manage that, put the light just to the left or right of the camera… the closer to the lens the better.

Also, if your camera situation is mobile, set it up in front of a window. Natural light is AWESOME to light people on-camera.

A side note on lighting… maybe the worst scenario is when the room is fairly dark and the light from a computer screen is illuminating the person in front of the web camera. It will make you look… creepy. Avoid that at all costs.

Tip: perfect posture

Pick the right chair for interviews or talk-to-camera videos. Comfortable, fluffy chairs are no good. Chairs with high backs that can be seen in the shot are no good.

I tend to look for the most uncomfortable chair in the room (a metal folding chair is great!) and use that.

Why? It forces you to sit with good posture. Sit-up, smile, and be the star that you are!

Tip: don’t ignore audio

There are several ways to spot an amateur video, but for us pros… the easiest way to tell is by listening to it.

Amateurs get so wrapped-up in making sure their video looks good, they neglect audio and it’s a big mistake. Bad audio can take a perfectly good video and spoil the whole thing.

Buy a microphone. You don’t have to invest a ton of money here, but every dollar you spend on audio is an investment in your finished video seeming more professional.

I love clip-on lavalier microphones for interviews and someone talking to the camera, but even getting a mini shotgun mic to attach to your camera will go a long way to improving your audio.

Tip: how-to frame your shots

Framing every shot the same way is another rookie mistake.

Videography is an art form. It takes a keen eye and lots of practice to master it. However, there are certain things you can do as an amateur to shoot better video.

The easiest one is to simply think about how you’re framing your shots. If they’re all a medium shot with your subject in the middle of the frame… you’re doing it wrong.

Think wide, medium, tight.

Let’s say you’re shooting video of someone working on a computer. First, shoot a wide shot of them where you see them with the whole room around them.

Next, get a shot of them that only shows them and the desk.

Finally, get a couple of tight shots… like their hands typing on the keyboard and their face as they look at the monitor.

Getting this series of shots will help BIG TIME when you go to edit.

Also, don’t be afraid to arrange the subject on different sides of the screen.

Think of your viewfinder in terms of thirds… left, middle, right. Shooting your subject on either side, as opposed to the center, often creates more appealing shots.

This is an especially good tip for framing interviews, whether the subject is talking directly to the camera, or off-camera in more of an interview style.

Make sure they’re not right in the middle of the frame. Slightly off-set them from the center.

And one last thing… especially when it comes to interviews… are you leaving too much headroom?

Many amateurs leave way too much space between the top of the frame and the top of a person’s head. You want a little space there, but just a little.

Tip: keep your camera steady

I’ll put it this way… your tripod is your friend.

Pros who shoot a lot of handheld video (myself included), do so with purpose. It’s a stylized look that is the result of years of practice. It’s a far cry from the amateur who is trying to hold the camera steady and failing.

Don’t have a tripod? Get one. Same rule as buying the microphone I mentioned above. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that will keep your camera steady.

Master shooting off a tripod first, then you can learn to shoot handheld video.

BONUS TIP!

If you are shooting video using your mobile phone, turn the phone on its side so your aspect ratio is horizontal, not vertical. Do not contribute to vertical video syndrome!

2019 research shows using vertical video might be better for social media videos, but I would only do this if the video is solely intended for social. If you’re producing a video you would like to use on multiple platforms… on your website, social, email, at events, in a sales presentation… I would stick with horizontal video.

While vertical video looks fine to someone watching on a phone, on every other platform it looks totally out of place.

–Tony Gnau

How-To Produce Better DIY Marketing Videos

If you’re a marketer who hasn’t embraced video and everything it can do for a company or brand, what’s the hang-up? Cost? Sure, video does have the potential to break the budget, but there are also plenty of ways to create low cost videos including DIY marketing videos.

Will wonders never cease?! A video producer advocating DIY videos?! Yup, although, I do have some special criteria before I grant you permission to create your own videos:

  • If you have zero marketing budget or you’re a start-up
  • If you are a kitschy company and your customers/clients know this about you
  • If you’re producing short videos for social media like Facebook Live or Instagram

Let’s break down and then I’ll give you some solid tips on how to improve the look and feel of your DIY videos.

Zero Marketing Budget

Whether you’re a part of a small business or a start-up just getting off the ground, I know there are plenty of companies out there that don’t have much of a marketing budget. In many cases, you don’t have a single dollar advocated toward marketing.

While I think everyone should be thinking about marketing and willing to at least spend something on it, that’s a topic for another day. However, if this is the position you find yourself in, by all means create your own videos.

Create a basic “About Us” video. Take people behind the scenes of your company and show what you do everyday and how you do it. Introduce the people working at the company.

There are all sorts of videos that can help market your business.

Kitschy Company

If a lot of people at the company wear t-shirts and jeans to work… you might work at a kitschy company. If you have a ping-pong table or video game center at the office and people use them… you might work at a kitschy company. If the release of a new Star Wars movie warrants a day-off, you might work at a kitschy company. (FYI… that one happens to be true at T60)

Kitschy companies get a special pass when it comes to DYI marketing videos. They can get away with videos that look less polished because they can chalk it up to their company culture.

They don’t have to worry about ruining their reputation with an amateur-looking video. Their customers just know this is who they are, and they love that about them.

Facebook Live and Instagram

No, you don’t have to hire a video pro to produce live and short social media videos. These are videos that in many cases are meant to be less polished.

The appeal of live videos are that they’re happening right now, not that you have perfect lighting. The appeal of a short social media post is providing a snippet, not an in-depth or intricate story.

DIY is just fine in these circumstances.

Doing Better DIY Marketing Videos

Now, for those you ready to take-on a DIY marketing video project, I have some practical tips for you to follow. For anyone who would like a more in-depth look, please check out our DIY shooting guide.

  1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. One of my mom’s favorite expressions is perfect for this first time. Don’t do too much, keep it simple. You may have the tools to produce a  video (smart phone or DSLR camera, editing software), but that doesn’t mean you’re an expert at using them. It takes dedication and years of experience to hone your skills as a videographer and editor. Especially if you’re a newbie, I recommend starting with some basic videos. A vlog is a great place to start. Simply put someone on-camera and have them talk about their views on subjects facing your industry, and maybe how your company is handling them. These videos are easy to shoot and edit.
  2. The dead giveaway of an amateur production… bad lighting, bad sound, and a shaky camera. You probably don’t have a video light kit. That’s okay. If you’re shooting a vlog or an interview-style shot, move a regular lamp in front of the subject, just out of frame. No lamp? Position them in front of a window so the natural light is on their face. The idea is don’t rely on the overhead lights in the room.
  3. Next, let’s address the sound issue. The microphone on your smartphone is… okay at best. The build-in mic on DSLRs… terrible. Do yourself a big favor and buy an inexpensive lapel microphone that you can plug into the camera and clip on your subject.
  4. Another worthwhile investment is a tripod. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but you want a nice stable platform for your camera. You can always look for ways to prop-up your camera on things you have available, but once you do… hands-off! Try not to touch the camera while it’s recording.
  5. Speaking of setting-up the camera… try not to leave too much headroom. There can be a little space between the top of the frame and the subject’s head, but just a little. Even chopping-off a tad of the top of their head is preferred to a big gap. Also, position them in the frame slightly off-center, and for crying out loud… NO VERTICAL VIDEO! Video screens are horizontal, so if you’re using a smartphone turn it on its side while you shoot video. The only exception… if you’re shooting for a platform like SnapChat that encourages vertical video.

Clarification

There is 2019 research that shows vertical video drives more traffic on Facebook and Instagram, and I think it deserves some consideration.

First and foremost, this is all about social media and how your customers are using it. If you see in your social analytics that most of them are consuming social on their phones, then you should consider vertical video.

However, I’ll add a caveat to that statement. I would only do that if the video you’re shooting is solely intended for social channels. If you’re going to use that video for multiple purposes (on your website, social, email, events, sales presentation, etc.), I still think you’re better off using horizontal.

Here’s why… if you have a horizontal video, it looks fine no matter what platform it’s played on. On the other hand, if you produce a vertical video, it looks fine on a phone, but everywhere else it looks terrible… totally out of place.

So if you’re just producing a short little video for social media, by all means, shoot it vertically. Otherwise, I’d stick with horizontal.

One Last Thing

Finally, temper your expectations and have patience. Shooting and editing will probably take you longer than anticipated. Don’t sweat it… this isn’t your expertise. The more you do it, the more efficient you’ll get at the process.

And remember, your DIY marketing video is not going to measure-up to the professional corporate videos you’ve seen. It just isn’t, so don’t hold yourself to that standard.

Finally, if you’re not happy with what you’ve put together, find yourself a pro to produce it for you. It might cost you less than you think. Companies like ours are willing to take on small budget projects. We even have a specific process for producing high quality, low cost videos called 3-Step Storytelling.

The Home Stretch

These tips will certainly help your production, but chances are you’re not going to fool anyone into thinking a pro produced them. As long as you fall into my DIY criteria stated above… that’s totally fine. Don’t try to fool them. Own the fact that you DIY your videos.

Better to own it, than have people think you’re trying to be something you’re not.

So… what are you waiting for?!

Tapping Emotions In Marketing Videos

Tapping Emotions In Marketing VideosOne of the biggest mistakes businesses make when producing videos is thinking they’re buying a communication tool to convey information. They’re not. What they’re really getting is a tool they can use to influence emotions in marketing strategies.

The Hard Truth For Many Business Leaders

Video isn’t about facts and figures. It’s about emotion. Sure, videos communicate information, but  information is often secondary to feelings.

Think about it. Consider the best marketing videos you’ve seen. Can you recall many facts and figures? Probably not.

Now think about those videos again. How did they make you feel? I’m guessing this is a much easier exercise. You might remember laughing or even shedding a tear. Maybe they just made you smile and feel good.

That’s why business leaders need to focus their videos more on emotion than information. It’s more likely people are going to walk away with an impression than facts, so let’s make sure we leave them with a good impression by using emotion.

Here is a hierarchy of emotion marketing videos can use to influence viewers.

Laughter

Laughter goes at the top of my list, but you could make a strong argument for crying as well. In many cases, it might depend on what a business or organization does dictates this.

The reason I put it at the top is because a funny video is maybe the most shareable video. Remember, we want people to watch, so the more eyeballs we attract the better.

Sounds easy, right? We’ll just make a funny video, get tons of views, make people feel good about our business, and boom… sales will follow!

The trick is getting people to laugh. It isn’t easy. This is actually one of the hardest things to accomplish when producing a video.

Also, a video intended to be funny that isn’t can actually be a detriment to the company. It makes you look silly. The exception is something kitschy, that’s intended to be silly.

Ways To Use Humor

Regardless, you have a couple of options… come up with a really funny video concept or look for funny moments that happen organically during the shoot.

If you go the concept route, please keep this in mind. Always stay focused on your audience. This is a good rule of thumb for any video, but especially one intended to be funny.

Ask yourself what will our viewers think is funny? A lot of businesses create videos that might be hilarious internally, but not so much outside the company. This doesn’t help you. Always put the audience first.

Another way to go about it is to simply look for funny moments that just sort of happen while you’re shooting. In this case, you’re not necessarily going out of your way to create a funny video. You’re just leaving yourself open to include something that happens.

I’ll never forget shooting an event video for Goose Island Beer Company in Chicago. The company was hosting a big party during at the Craft Brewers Conference and wanted us to create a video to share afterward.

They told us, just make it fun and exciting, so that’s the emotion we were going for. As we were shooting them prepping the event space, someone was tapping a keg and it sprayed all over him. He was embarrassed, but we had a wireless mic on him and he said something like, “At least it tastes good.”

I’m sure a lot of producers would have left it out. It was after all a “mistake,” and you don’t want to highlight a customer’s mistakes, right?

Wrong. It was funny and we included it in the video toward the beginning. Everyone I’ve shown that video to chuckles when it happens and comments on it. It was a perfect, organically funny moment that set the stage that this video is fun.

Keeping an eye out for funny moments like this can do a lot to help your videos.

Crying

I often tell people I’m in one of the few professions where we celebrate making people cry. That goes for both participants and viewers. If you have an emotional story to tell that can tie back to your business in some way… do it. Do it now. It will endear people to your company or organization.

The key in most cases is getting someone to cry on-camera coupled with professional storytelling. That’s your winning formula.

Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan is one of our customers. They have emotional stories in spades and use them as effective marketing and fundraising tools.

Even so… it usually takes an experienced producer to get someone to cry on-camera, and then weave a story to elicit tears from the audience. If you shop around for a production crew, ask to see some of their emotional work to see if they’re a good fit for you.

Surprise

Now we’re getting into territory that’s easier to navigate. Getting people to laugh or cry… tough, very tough. Surprising people… much easier.

Surprise is one of the best ways to get people to reengage in your video. Just when they think they know where it’s going, you hit them with a surprise that catches their attention.

It doesn’t have to be anything major. Shock is great it you can achieve that, but I’m perfectly happy with a mild surprise. Anything that catches viewers off-guard and makes them think, hmmm, I didn’t see that coming.

In some cases, it might be a tidbit of information. What do you do differently than your competition? How is your widget different than other widgets? These are common things that can be used as surprises.

Confidence

Most of our customers fall into this category. They’ll tell us all the great things they do at their business or organization, and it all boils down to one thing. They want their audience to feel good about them. They want viewers to walk away from watching their videos feeling confident they’ll get the job done… and done well.

The good news here… this is probably the most achievable of the emotions we’ve discussed.

Show people what you do. Take them behind the scenes. Be as authentic as possible. Tell a good story. Use music to set the tone.

All of these things will help you produce a video that inspires confidence.

Using Emotions In Marketing Videos Works

I’ll state it again… it’s kind of my mantra… video isn’t about facts and figures. Video is about emotion. Focus on creating videos that tap viewers’ emotions, and you’ll have marketing tools that endear people to your business.

Milwaukee Video Production Buyers Guide

Milwaukee Video Production Buyers GuideTips for Planning a Video Shoot in Wisconsin… or Anywhere Else!

You’re all set to produce your marketing video. Or… maybe it’s an internal project? Maybe an event video? Regardless of what type of “corporate video” you’re producing, finding a Milwaukee video production company is next on your docket. These are some practical tips for just about any city. 

Shopping for a production company isn’t the typical kind of thing you’re used to researching. You’re about to create a video… something that’s one part functional and another part art, so you’re tasked with finding a credible company with talented marketing artists.

That’s why we’ve created this guide. You could certainly just hire us. We’d love that (we’re pretty awesome), but really the best advice is to do a little research and get bids from a few companies.

Let’s start from the beginning.

Why You Need Look At Multiple Production Houses

Every production company is different from the other. Some are bigger, some are smaller. Some help with creative and marketing ideas, others simply execute your plan. Equipment and personnel can also vary from company to company.

When you take these things into account, it’s good to look at multiple companies to get a sense of which is best for your project.

Are you heading into a big budget production? Multiple cameras, a large production crew, fancy equipment like cranes or drones?

If so, you’re going to need a big production house that can handle that kind of stuff.

On the other hand, are you trying to keep it simple? Are you more interested in quality storytelling than video gadgets? A smaller company or even an independent video pro might be better for your project.

So… how do you begin to separate each company from one another?

Tip #1: watch their work

You’re obviously going to start looking at production company websites. You’ll be able to get some basic information, but really what you want to do is watch examples of their work.

Forget the company “sizzle reel” if they have one. This is simply a highlight video… a compilation. How’s that going to help you?

Instead, watch their client work. If you want to know what to watch for, check out our vlog post on the subject: Tips for Picking a Video Company.

Also, has the production company produced a video about itself… an “About Us” video? Are you kidding me!?! They haven’t? A company that produces marketing videos for other businesses hasn’t produced one about itself? That’s… a little… weird.

Tip #2: vetting

Once you’ve found a few companies with videos you like, you’re going to want to vet them.

Start with their clients… Fortune 500, medium-size companies, micro-businesses… see any companies that seem to be about the same size as your business? Are there any in related industries?

Of course, cost is going to be a factor when vetting production houses as well. The only problem? Many (most) production companies don’t list any prices at their website.

I know why they do this. Every video project is different, so that makes it tough to put together a price list.

However, it isn’t impossible. We know people need a little guidance in this area, so we put together some ballpark prices for our website. We even detail how to figure out video production cost.

It would be great if every other production house did this, but they don’t. That means you’ll have to spend some time on the phone speaking with them. You could try email, but the phone is probably easier.

While they’ll ask you a bunch of questions for your price quote, you should ask some as well, like:

  • Is there a minimum cost?
  • Do they produce low cost videos?
  • How do they charge? By the hour, day, video length?
  • Make sure to ask if they’ll give you a fixed price, or will it change depending on how the production goes?

We have clients who were burned by production companies in the past. They thought the price was fixed, but things were added during the production process (extra shoot days, special equipment, more post-production time) and next thing they knew the price had skyrocketed.

It’s okay if it’s not a fixed price, but make sure the production company will agree to talk with you in advance of any additional expenses.

It also helps to sometimes work backwards when getting a quote. Tell them your budget and then see what they can do for that amount. I know… you don’t want to show your hand, but this is a great way to shop around. You can still find a deal because if they’re offering more than you need, you can walk back your budget and ask what they can do for less.

  • Once you have a price, make sure you know what you’re getting for your money. How big will the crew be? How many hours will they spend on your project?
  • What about content ideas? Will they help generate creative ideas and work with you on storytelling, or will they simply execute the plan you provide to them?
  • Ask them about their video production process. Every production house does things a little differently from the rest. Find out what’s involved and how long the production will take.
  • Are revisions included in the price? Again, every company handles things differently. With some, revisions cost extra. With others, you get a certain amount included in the price.

Tip #3: get it in writing

You’ve looked at some videos, you like a company’s style, and you have a good price estimate. Time to get an official proposal.

The proposal will probably just put into writing what you’ve already discussed with them, but it’s a necessary step. Communication is so important! You don’t want there to be any curve balls.

Once you’ve approved the proposal, get a contract and you’re ready to roll!

You’ve Selected Your Milwaukee Video Production Company

Hopefully, I didn’t scare you away. It sounds like a lot, but it’s all worth while. And now that you have this trusted guide, the process should be much easier.

And the good news? At the end… you’ll have a terrific marketing tool, so have fun!

Chicago Video Production Buyers Guide

Chicago Video Production Buyers GuideTips for Planning a Video Shoot Around Chicago… or Anywhere Else!

Picking a Chicago video production company can be a tricky proposition. First, there are a ton of them to choose from. Second, it can be difficult telling them apart. Finally, many don’t list even ballpark prices at their website. That drives me nuts, but more on that later.

I’d like to make it simple on you and say, “Hire Us! Your mission is accomplished.” But that’s just lousy advice. Not because we aren’t good at what we do… we’re actually pretty awesome. No, the reason why is it’s important to shop around and pick the right production company for the right project.

Difference In Production Companies?

Not all production houses are created the same, or equal for that matter, which is why it’s important to find the right fit.

For example, if you need a big production… think lots of lights, multiple videographers and sound technicians, maybe a drone or a crane to get some cool shots… yeah… a crane. Not every production company can pull that off.

On the other hand, let’s say you want a small production crew… or a single videographer… for something that would be less disruptive to daily operations? Maybe you need a company with a strong emphasis on storytelling? That same company that handled the big shoot might not be right for those videos.

If only there was a handy-dandy guide that could help you make sense of all of this. Well, that’s what we aim to do.

First Step: Watch and Listen

Start Googling… every company you look at should have sample work at its website. Check out its previous work.

Insiders Tip:  if they have a single “sample reel” of their work… don’t bother watching. It’s a highlight reel. How’s that going to help you? Instead, watch the client work they’ve posted. We have more guidelines in a previous vlog post if you need more help (Tips For Picking A Video Company).

Also, have they produced a video about themselves telling their own story? What? They haven’t? So a company that produces videos for other organizations doesn’t see the value in producing one on itself? Seems… weird… doesn’t it?

Second Step: Vetting

The next step is vetting them. Who are their clients? The Fortune 500 or mom-and-pop shops? Are their businesses or brands that appear to be the same size as yours? Any that are in related industries?

One of the main things you’ll to want to know is cost. This is going to take some leg work… or at least some time on the phone.

I’m with you… this drive me crazy. Why don’t production companies list their prices!? As someone who started his own production company, let me fill you in. Every project is different, so it’s tough to publish a price list.

However, just because it’s tough, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We manage to post our ballpark prices… even how to figure out video production costI wish more companies would do this for you, but many (most) don’t. That means picking up the phone and asking questions.

Here are some good ones:

  • What will it cost? Tell them what you have in mind for your video and ask how much it will cost. They’ll ask you some questions and should be able to give you some sort of an idea on pricing.

Insider’s Tip: ask them if it’s a fixed cost, or is it possible things will change during production. We’ve had lots of clients burned by other companies in the past because they thought the price in the contract was fixed, but during the production process things were added (more shooting days, special equipment, additional personnel, etc.) all driving up cost without them knowing. Make sure it’s a fixed cost, or the production crew will notify you of any additional costs before they happen.

Another option is to work backwards. Give them your budget and ask what they can do for that amount. I know, a lot of people don’t like to do this because they don’t want to pay more than they have to. I get it, but this method will often get you a more accurate picture of what you get for your money. Also, if you’re shopping around, you’ll be able to compare between companies.

  • Once you have a price, ask them what that gets you. How big of a crew? How many hours will they spend on it?
  • Will they help with content ideas? What about help with storytelling? Some production houses are just that… they’re all about the production and only the production. If you’re providing all the direction on content, this might be fine with you. But if you need a little help, it’s good to know upfront if they can provide some creative ideas.
  • What is their video production process? How long will it take? Every company has a different way of doing things. Find out how each of them works.
  • Are revisions included? Once the video has been edited, it’s important to know if you can make changes. Sometimes making changes costs more. 

Last Step: Get a Written Proposal

Okay… you’ve looked at a bunch of videos and like a particular company’s style. You’re okay with their price estimate and their production process. Now you need a formal proposal.

What you’ll receive will likely put into writing what they’ve told you over the phone. Hopefully, it will also include more details on things like how much time is devoted to each aspect of the production.

Once you sign-off on that, get a contract, sign, and you’re off and running!

You’ve Selected Your Chicago Video Production Company

I hope all of this didn’t sound too daunting. It really shouldn’t be now that you have this trusted guide.

The best part… once you’ve picked the right Chicago video production company for you, it’s time to actually produce the video. And producing videos is fun.

How-To Figure Out Video Production Cost

video production costPricing out video production can be kind of tricky. Ask someone in the industry for help and you’ll likely get the typical answer… it depends. Not very helpful when you’re planning a budget and trying to figure out your video production costs.

Maybe that’s why so many production companies don’t advertise their prices. It drives me crazy when I can’t find pricing information at a website, so we at least try to give some ballpark figures. We’re also happy to prepare a quote for you anytime you’re planning a budget. While I’ve had plenty of customers and prospects thank me for that, I thought a more extensive blog post on how we break down our costs might be worthwhile explaining.

While you’ll probably still have to contact me or another video producer if you have specific questions, my hope is that this post will give you more insight into what goes into producing a video so you know where your money is going.

Our “Day Rate”

First things first, we don’t charge by the hour. We’re sometimes asked for a 1-hour video shoot; however, customers don’t see all of the pre and post-prodution activities that take place. Things like travel time to and from the shoot, color correcting the video in post-production, and converting the files into something they can use. In short, video production takes a lot more than an hour.

We charge by using day rate, $1,200/day, or sometimes a half-day rate of $800. Basically, we figure out how much time will be spent on a project (how many days), then we apply the day rate to come up with our total cost.

The most frequent question we get is how much does a 3-minute video cost… or a 2-minute video… or a 60-second video? Regardless of the video length, the answer is always… it depends… and here’s why.

Let’s use the 3-minute video as an example. The finished video might be 3-minutes, but each 3-minute video can vary greatly in how long it takes to produce. We’ve had 3-minute videos that took just a few days to produce costing about $4,000. We’ve also had a 3-minute video take nearly 2-weeks to complete costing over $10,000. It all depends on what has to be shot and how much time we’ll need in post-production.

Let me walk you through the process for how we breakdown our time to help you understand it better.

Concept Planning

The first thing is simply getting on the same page with the customer to make sure we’re producing what they need to meet their goals. At this point, we’ve likely already met with the customer before preparing their video proposal, so this concept planning meeting typically only takes about 30-minutes to 1-hour and can be done in-person or over the phone. We do things like:

  • outline the approach to the video
  • discuss with customer the subject matter and raw video that must appear in the video
  • discuss how many on-camera interviews will be conducted; select interviewees and discuss plan for contacting and coordinating each person

Pre-Production

Next, we start to assemble all the things we’ll need during the shoot. This can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. Preparations include:

  • create any necessary shot lists (based on the concept meeting)
  • prepare interview questions (based on the concept meeting)
  • prepare equipment (checking/testing the camera, lights, media cards, tripod)

Video Shoot

The day of the video shoot is the most obvious to people because we’re on-site so what we do is on display. This is a big part of the “it depends” aspect of things. How many video shoots will be required to capture what we need for the video?

It’s talked about and decided in advance when the video proposal is being prepared. Sometimes everything we need to shoot is in a single location and all available on the same day. Perfect.

On the other hand, sometimes there are multiple locations involved, someone critical to the video needs to be interviewed on a different day, et cetera. All of these things add-up.

As far as the shoot itself, here are some of the things we do:

  • videographer visits each site to shoot everything on the shot list
  • videographer also shoots other raw video he/she finds relevant or beneficial
  • videographer interviews predetermined people

Most of T60’s videos only require a single videographer, but there are cases where additional resources are needed or requested. We have helped coordinate things like additional videographers, sound technicians, an online streaming coordinator, a teleprompter operator, hair and makeup, et cetera. Adding professionals like these does increase the production’s cost.

Post-Production

This is where a lot of the time gets spent that the customer never gets to see. It’s the other “it depends” variable. How much time gets spent in post-production varies depending on the amount of raw video there is to sift through and how complicated the story is to tell. It could take anywhere from 2-5 days in most cases. Some of the things that need to be accomplished are:

Logging Raw Video

  • review all the raw video that was shot
  • transcribe sound bites from interviews

Script Creation

  • notes regarding sound bites and raw video are reviewed
  • sound bites are selected, then arranged into story form to create a script
  • script is emailed to customer
  • minor changes are discussed by phone, changes requested by client are made

Video Edit

  • edit video according to the approved script
  • relevant graphics are created
  • preview video is provided to customer for viewing
  • minor changes are discussed by phone, changes requested by client are made

Wrap

  • digital files are created

Taking into consideration each of those phases… concept planning, pre-production, video shoot, and post-production… most projects take 4-5 days to complete, costing about $5,000 – $6,000

Price is always agreed to in advance with our customers, so they know what the cost is before production begins. We have had a few situations where a project takes longer than anticipated and the price has changed during the process. In all of those cases, the customers added shoots, or other components, and then agreed to an accordingly higher price. Communication is the best way to avoid any potential cost issues.

Low-Cost Videos

We do produce low cost videos for small business owners with tiny marketing budgets for $1,000.

Those videos are all about keeping a very strict production schedule. From beginning to end, the entire production needs to take us less than a day to create the video. We do that with a 1-hour video shoot, during which we follow our 3-step storytelling process. We ask a string of questions leading to answers that essentially create the script on its own, then we edit everything together.

These customers also relinquish creative control to us and trust we will deliver a video that’s on-message. They do not get a script to approve or a preview video that allows them to ask for changes in the final video.

This cuts down on a lot of the time it takes us in post-production. If a customer wants editorial control in one of these low cost videos, we recommend our full-service storytelling instead. Our customers who have purchased our low cost videos have been thrilled with the end result and, of course, the cost!

Breaking down your video production cost

Those basic steps for how the videos are produced should be pretty universal from company to company. Of course, every production company prices things in their own way, but that’s how we determine the cost of a video.  I hope this at least gives you some understanding behind the process.

–Tony Gnau